Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Flash #52 Review

Requisition Me This

Written by: Van Jensen
Art by: Jesus Merino, Guy Major and Pat Brosseau
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 25, 2016

I guess this is the end...or is it the beginning?  Or is it the beginning of the end?!?  With Rebirth #1 on the shelves this week, reading and reviewing some of these books is becoming a little bit odd to do. I would think that most people have packed the New 52 down in the musty old basement and are waiting for all the shiny, new Rebirth titles to arrive to make the house look all fancy and modern. Well, I'm not most people!  I am a miserable man who hates change, but more importantly, I am a guy who has enjoyed Van Jensen and Robert Venditti's time on the Flash and want to see how it all ends.  Will it lead right into Rebirth?  Will Jensen put the toothpaste back in the tube to give Joshua Williamson (he is taking over for Rebirth) a completely fresh start?  Will I stop asking questions to nobody in particular?  Yes...yes I will.  Let's get on with the review...

The issue opens with an unmasked Barry Allen with his head on the chopping block.  Actually, it's in a guillotine and it kind of threw me off a bit.  A Guillotine?!?  Not only does it seem like an odd choice for the Riddler, but where the hell did he get it?  We all know that Guillotines 'R' Us went under in the late 90's!  Speaking of "things that make you go hmmm...", I have had an issue with the Riddler as the villain of this story in general, but more on that latter.  Right now, we got an identity crisis on our hands!

I think everyone was pretty sure that last issue's big cliffhanger would have to resolved before going into Rebirth.  I mean, that would be pretty cold of Van Jensen to reveal to the world that Barry Allen was the Flash and then drop the mic and leave.  It would have been pretty cool, but a bit too (forever) evil.  I guess Barry could have gone on to be a super spy or something...  No worries, though, because it is all resolved pretty quickly here and I actually liked how it was done.  I thought the Riddler just wasn't going to believe Barry, but instead, Wally West uses his new found Speed Force powers to set off the alarms and the Riddler put two and two together and came up with the logical, yet wrong, assumption that the real Flash must still be running around Central City.  Like I said, I liked it, but really thought that it would lead to a little Flash/Kid Flash action, but Wally is M.I.A. the rest of the issue.  WTF?!?

Back to the Riddler.  I really have to question why Van Jensen used him as the villain in this story. His plan, while somewhat effective, isn't at all clever.  It really came down to some ass kicking logistics and preparation.  Instead of "riddle me this", it was more "Order me two of those, ship them to Kansas under a dummy company and then drop the price and make them an offer".  Plus, just having the Riddler fight the Flash seemed off from the get go.  I wish Jensen would have reached back into the history of Flash's rogues gallery and grabbed, say a re imagined Thinker or Wooden Man.  Better yet, just make up a new villain for the story.  He is a guy who plans and prepares...I'd call him Preparation H!  Nothing at all wrong with that name.

Back to the issue, with Riddler (or is it really Preparation H?!?!) trying to find the Flash, Barry sprints off to gather some allies and goes right to the Rogues.  He helps get Golden Glider out of her coma (he's a quick study...don't ask) and then sprints off to confront the Riddler for what feels like the hundredth time.

That's when we get what feels like the whole reason for this story...The Flash teaming up with the Rogues!  Pied Piper is also there for good measure and by the end, Heatwave joins the party as well. Sounds like a ton of fun, but it ends way to quickly and conveniently to have any real impact.  The issue ends with the Riddler is custody,  the Rogues pissed off they weren't allowed to murder him (what about your code???)  and Captain Frye admitting he was wrong about the Flash and as for Barry Allen...With his identity restored and the bad guy in cuffs, you know what he wants to do? Strut! Strut real fast almost like he's running.

Well, it's off to Rebirth and this was one of those open-ended, finish off the story endings that kind of just sits there trying not to offend anyone.  I've already told you my thoughts about the Riddler and it's hard to get behind a story 100% when the villain just doesn't mesh.  I am sitting here trying to really nail down what the Riddler's endgame in all this was and I can't put my finger fully on it. That's a problem.  Plus, to make a lame, comic reviewers 101 type quote..."This story really felt like it was a sprint to the finish".  Everything was easily resolved in the last couple pages and with the Flash's hands washed clean of it all, he'll get a fresh start in a couple of weeks.  I am still a fan of Van Jensen's work on The Flash and of him in particular, but this was a pretty generic way to end Barry Allen's time in the New 52.

I wasn't a huge fan of Jesus Merino when he took over for Brett Booth, but I think that was more me being a big Booth fan than anything else.  While Merino jumped in and out of the book himself, I liked the art in this final issue.  In fact, there are three pages at the end that are each the best stuff he's given fans on this book.  I am looking forward to see what he does on the Rebirth Aquaman book.

Bits and Pieces:

Van Jensen closes the book on the New 52 Flash and while I've been a fan of his and Robert Venditti's run, this final story is pretty forgettable.  The ingredients are there for something special (The Flash teaming up with the Rogues especially), but it all came to a quick and convenient end that let's Barry Allen run right into his next big adventure, but had me scratching my head as well.  Jesus Merino's art was the best he's done since joining this book, but that couldn't turn the so-so story into anything except what it was...a placeholder to get us to Rebirth.


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